Winless in his last five outings and the loser of three straight, Stephen Strasburg took the mound in the nation's capital this afternoon against the Philadelphia Phillies and gave up a leadoff single to right on the first pitch he threw to Jimmy Rollins. Strasburg dropped a 78 mph 0-2 curve on Phillies' first baseman Kevin Frandsen for a called strike three that had the infielder barking at home plate umpire John Hirschbeck, then threw an 0-2 fastball to Chase Utley that Utley sent out to second to start an inning-ending 4-6-3. Eight-pitch inning for Strasburg, 0-0 after a half.
Denard Span hit an opposite field single to left on a 1-1 sinker from Phillies' right-hander Kyle Kendrick for a leadoff single in the Nationals' first. Span took second on a Ryan Zimmerman groundout, but Bryce Harper took a 1-2 two-seamer for a called strike three and out no.2, leaving it up to Jayson Werth, who came through with an RBI single to center that scored Span and made it 1-0 Nationals after one in the nation's capital.
Stephen Strasburg spiked a 1-0 change to Domonic Brown in the first at bat of the second, then had a visit from the Nationals' manager and trainer after he appeared uncomfortable on the mound. Strasburg threw a pitch to see how he felt under the watchful eye of the team's head physician but said he was fine to keep pitching. Brown took a four-pitch walk to put the leadoff runner on for the second straight frame, but Strasburg struck Darin Ruf out with a 96 mph 2-2 heater and threw a 97 mph fastball outside by a flailing Cody Asche for out no.2 and K no. 3 in 1 2/3 IP. Strasburg stepped off and checked Brown with two down, and the Phillies' outfielder ran on the next pitch, but was gunned down by Wilson Ramos. 16-pitch inning for Strasburg, 24 overall after two.
Wilson Ramos and Steve Lombardozzi hit back-to-back singles with one down in the Nationals' second, and both runners moved up on a sac bunt by Stephen Strasburg, but were stranded when Denard Span grounded out. 1-0 Nationals after two.
Ryan Zimmerman made a self-defense-ish-type catch of a sharp liner to third off Erik Kratz's bat for the first out of the Phillies' third. Outfielder Michael Martinez had no chance of catching up to the 98 mph fastball Strasburg threw by him and the opposing pitcher had no hope of hitting the front door curve the Nats' 24-year-old starter dropped in for a called strike three, out no. 3 and K no. 5 in 3.0 scoreless innings pitched. 1-0 Nationals. Nine-pitch frame, 33 total after three. Kyle Kendrick was up to 38 pitches overall after retired the Nats in order in a 13-pitch bottom of the inning. Still 1-0 Nationals.
Stephen Strasburg gave up a one-out single to right by Kevin Frandsen, but collected two more Ks and completed a 10-pitch fourth that had him up to just 43 pitches overall with 7 Ks in four scoreless after Jimmy Rollins K'd swinging at an 0-2 curve to start the inning and Domonic Brown chased a 1-2 change out of the zone for the third and final out.
Ian Desmond singled to right to start the Nationals' fourth, then stole second on a fastball inside to Adam LaRoche, who eventually walked to put two on for Wilson Ramos, who took a 2-2 change through short for an RBI single and a 2-0 Nats' lead. Denard Span stepped up with runners on the corners after Stephen Strasburg struck out, and hit one straight down off home plate for a high chopper of an infield infield single that scored Adam LaRoche to make it 3-0 Nationals. Ryan Zimmerman's sharp infield single to short loaded the bases for Bryce Harper, who flew to center to end a 34-pitch inning that had Kendrick up to 72 pitches.
Darin Ruf battled for 10 pitches before striking out chasing a diving full-count change for out no.1 of the fifth and Strasburg's eighth K. A fly to right by Cody Asche and pop to foul territory off first by Erik Kratz ended an 18-pitch 5th that had Strasburg up to 61 pitches after five scoreless innings pitched. 11 of 12 set down after Strasburg's leadoff walk to Domonic Brown in the second. Jayson Werth was 2 for 3 today and 6 for 11 in the series after a leadoff single in the Nationals' fifth. Ian Desmond was 2 for 3 and 6 for 10 this weekend after the second straight single to start the frame, and Adam LaRoche walked to load the bases for Wilson Ramos. Ramos rolled one out to second. Chase Utley threw home. Erik Kratz couldn't hold it. Werth scored. Ian Desmond kept coming while Kratz collected the ball and the Nationals went up 5-0 in the fifth when Desmond slid in safely. 6-0 when LaRoche scored on a Steve Lombardozzi single. That was all for Kendrick.
Stephen Strasburg got K no.9 in 5 1/3 with a 1-2 curve to Michael Martinez. Carlos Ruiz rolled a 1-2 curve out to short for out no.2 and Jimmy Rollins flew out to center on a 2-0 fastball to end an 11-pitch frame that had Strasburg up to 72 overall after six. 6-0 Nationals. Ryan Zimmerman walked to start the Nats' sixth, but was doubled up on a grounder to first by Bryce Harper. Jayson Werth was 7 for 12 in the series after singling to left with two down, but Ian Desmond popped up to end a scoreless inning of work by Justin De Fratus.
Kevin Frandsen singled to center to start the seventh, but Chase Utley's grounder to first started a 3-6 DP that ended when Ian Desmond tagged Frandsen at second. Domonic Brown lined to right for a two-out single, but Strasburg struck Darin Ruf out with a 1-2 change to end his seventh scoreless after 10 pitches at 82 pitches overall on the afternoon. Steve Lombardozzi singled with two down in the Nats' seventh, but was stranded when Stephen Strasburg was retired to end the inning.
Strasburg came back out for the eighth and retired the side in order in an eight-pitch frame that all-but guaranteed he'd be back out for the ninth. 90 pitches after eight scoreless. Efficient and filthy. The Nationals went down in order in the bottom of the inning and Stephen Strasburg came back out. Carlos Ruiz flew out to center. ONE! Jimmy Rollins popped up on the first pitch he saw. Kevin Frandsen? Lined out to a diving Ryan Zimmerman! Ballgame. Nine-pitch inning, 99 pitches... Complete. Game. Shutout.
Stephen Strasburg's line: 9.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 10 Ks, 99 pitches, 66 strikes, 5/2 GO/FO.
Nationals now 57-60